A Michigan appellate court has affirmed a summary judgment in favor of an attorney in a legal malpractice action. In Saffron v. Elhart, a client retained an attorney to represent him in his divorce proceedings. During the trial, the client alleged that his former wife had gambled away almost $300,000 of marital funds. However, he was unable to prove the exact amount of money that she had lost. Nevertheless, the court entered a judgment reflecting a credit to the husband for a portion of the amount that he claimed she had lost.
Also, during the marriage, the couple entered into an antenuptial agreement, which protected real estate, which the wife had inherited. The client sought to invalidate the agreement due to the wife’s infidelity. However, the court enforced the agreement and awarded the property exclusively to the wife.
The client then brought a legal malpractice suit against his attorney, alleging that the attorney failed to conduct adequate discovery regarding the gambling money lost, and failed to properly challenge the validity of the antenuptial agreement, which prevented him from obtaining a more favorable settlement. The attorney successfully moved for summary judgment, and the client appealed.
The appellate court affirmed the judgment. The court relied on the absence of any further proof of monies lost through his wife’s gambling With respect to the antenuptial agreement, the Court concluded that the client had failed to establish that his wife’s inherited real estate was marital property. Therefore, there was no evidence that the attorney’s conduct had proximately caused the client any harm.
Decision: Saffron v. Elhart